First East Coast Coronavirus Deaths Are Confirmed

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Two people in Florida are the first known fatalities from the coronavirus on the east coast.

According to Florida's Department of Public Health, both people were in their 70s and had recently traveled overseas, raising the U.S. death toll to 14. Both deaths come one week after Florida announced its first two cases of coronavirus in Manatee County and Hillsborough County.

One of the deaths was a man with underlying health issues in Santa Rosa County. The other was a person in Lee County, who died hours before officials announced another case there.

On Friday Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asked state lawmakers for $25 million for extra lab equipment and staff in order to prepare for the inevitable spread of coronavirus.

President Trump also signed a $8.3 billion funding bill on Friday towards fighting the virus; far exceeding the $7 billion Congress approved to fight H1N1 in 2009, and the $5.4 billion Congress put toward the Ebola response in 2014.

According to a breakdown of that funding, $3.1 billion will go to the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services for vaccine development, additional supplies like masks and protective equipment, and community health centers.

$950 million will go to state and local health departments, and will be dispersed via the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. $1.25 billion will go to international activities like helping with containment abroad. The funding package also includes a provision that the vaccines and treatments purchased by the government should be priced fairly.

However, it does not include how much of the money, if any, will reimburse hospitals or patients for medical care costs associated with coronavirus treatment that won't be covered by private insurance or Medicare or Medicaid.

Following the two coronavirus deaths and three new reported cases in Florida, Gov. DeSantis directed the state Division of Emergency Mamagement to activate level 2, which will allow officials to coordinate statewide preparedness and response to the virus.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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